Breckenridge local wins Fall Classic mountain bike race on new course

Taylor Shelden of Breckenridge rides to a win on Sunday, Sept. 12, in the Fall Classic pro-open men's division, completing the 30-mile course with a time of two hours, 21 minutes and 3.5 seconds.
Photo by John Hanson/For the Summit Daily News

An end-of-summer Summit County sporting staple took on a new look Sunday, Sept. 12, as the traditional Fall Classic mountain bike race returned to Breckenridge.

Due to a large logging operation in Indiana Gulch and closed trail access on private property, racers on Sunday took to a new Fall Classic course. The route featured 3,800 feet of climbing across 30 miles of some of the best trails in the Breckenridge area.

Breckenridge local Tim Faia, who won Sunday’s expert men’s 50+ division race in 2 hours, 41 minutes and 57.6 seconds, said he appreciated how the new course included portions in Galena Ditch and on the ZL Trail — two stretches that typically are only raced each year during the Breck Epic.

Despite the course face-lift, Faia said the event maintained the unique verve it’s harbored since he first raced it as a 26-year-old in 1995. Back then, Faia remembers it not being out of the question that riders would ride through a few fresh inches of early-September snow when riding Heinous Hill, Lincoln Meadow and across Little French to Nightmare on Baldy and the Iowa Mill.

“It’s been a race that’s just so iconic because in Colorado, mountain bike racing generally ends with Fall Classic,” Faia said. “It’s been that way for a long time. I just think racing a mountain bike at what would be the last weekend of the summer and racing in snow is cool.”

Charles Roth, of Breckenridge, also returned to race the Fall Classic, his first time taking on the fat-tire challenge in a decade. Roth, who won the men’s singlespeed division in 2:49:29.9, said this year’s course featured a couple of challenging climbs to pair with the “flumey” sections through the Galena and ZL trails. In his first Fall Classic singlespeed race, Roth took the lead on a climb up Yellowbrick Road when other singlespeeders walked their bike. Despite taking a spill when his wheels washed out on Side Door, Roth rode to an 11-plus minute win after a seemingly endless ascent up Weber Gulch.

“I didn’t realize we were going all the way to the top there,” Roth said. “It was demoralizing to have that climb. It was definitely a challenge there to fight through that last little bit.”

Taylor Shelden, of Breckenridge, won Sunday’s overall and pro-open men’s race with a time of 2:21:03.5, while Bayli McSpadden, of Vail, won the pro-open women’s division in 2:52:54.6. Shelden’s repeat win from the 2019 Fall Classic clinched him the overall championship for this summer’s Summit Mountain Challenge race series.

Tim Faia, of Breckenridge, rounds a corner as he descends Upper Side Door trail on his way to claiming first place in the men's 50+ category at the Fall Classic mountain bike race in Breckenridge.
Photo by John Hanson/For the Summit Daily News

Shelden said that although he loves the traditional Fall Classic route — he has raced the event more than a half-dozen times since his debut as a 15-year-old in the early 2000s — Sunday’s new course felt like a great mountain bike race because of how it consisted of mostly singletrack sections. Shelden on Sunday raced out to a lead on the ZL and Gold Run trails before putting the hammer down on Back Door and Side Door for a winning margin of more than two and a half minutes.

“As we got further in the race, the climbing — I think it started to add up,” Shelden said.

Breckenridge local Whitney Hedberg won the sport women’s division with a time of 2:24:04.1. Whitney an experienced Nordic skier and runner, decided to give the local mountain bike race a try as she returns to competition following the birth of her son Odin Tripp Hedberg two years ago.

2021 Fall Classic

Vail’s Bayli McSpadden speeds down the Upper Side Door Trail. McSpadden finished first in the pro-open women’s division, edging out second place Clare Hanson by just two seconds, at Sunday’s Fall Classic mountain bike race in Breckenridge. | Photo by John Hanson/For the Summit Daily News

Full results

Whitney said she prepared in part for the race — just her second mountain bike race ever — by riding with Odin on the local trails this summer. The mother uses the Shotgun mounted child’s mountain bike seat to ride with her son on the more tame trails across the county.

But on Sunday, as she raced to the sport women win, it was Whitney’s husband, Olof Hedberg, who rode with Odin on side trails in the Breckenridge network to surprise Whitney at different spots during the race. As Olof checked the Find My iPhone app map to see where he could ride to next to run into Whitney, Odin saddled up in jeans and a helmet holding onto his own handlebars and pedaling his own pedals — two accessories on the mount that don’t affect the bike’s direction or speed at all but give the toddler his first taste of riding.

“It’s fun to see Odin on course and for him to see me pushing myself,” Whitney said. “It’s a relatively new thing seeing moms pushing themselves and I think it’s important for him to see that there’s more to my life outside of being mom.”

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